Forestry News electronic newsletter masthead












November 2, 2006

Matthews State Forest Dedicated in SW Virginia

The day’s events began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Grayson & Carroll
  counties office of the Virginia Department of Forestry. Regional Forester Ed Stoots led a host of dignitaries who cut the red, white and blue ribbon that
  stretched across the main entrance to the new building.A Silver Maple tree was planted in honor of and in memory of Jack and Clare Matthews.

More than 100 state and local officials, members of the Judge Jack and Clare Matthews family and the trustees of the Matthews Foundation were on hand Sept. 28th to officially dedicate the Matthews State Forest.

The day’s events began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Grayson & Carroll counties office of the Virginia Department of Forestry. Regional Forester Ed Stoots led a host of dignitaries who cut the red, white and blue ribbon that stretched across the main entrance to the new building. Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Robert Bloxom addressed the crowd and brought well wishes from Governor Tim Kaine. State Forester Carl Garrison provided the keynote speech, which recognized the Matthews Family for its generous gift to the Commonwealth and the Foundation Trustees for their role in carrying out the wishes of Jack and Clare Matthews.

After the official remarks, everyone gathered outside as a Silver Maple tree Guests were also treated to several interactive
  displays on hardwood charcoal.Lunch and a special cake were provided by the VDOF. was planted in honor of and in memory of Jack and Clare Matthews. The Judge and his wife donated a total of 560 acres of forest and farm land to VDOF to “provide for scientific, educational and research needs for Southwest Virginia’s children and the public, and to continue the work to enhance and bring back indigenous species, such as the American Chestnut.” Lunch and a special cake were provided by the VDOF. Guests were also treated to several interactive displays on Firewise and hardwood charcoal.







Fall Fire Season Runs Oct. 15th through Nov. 30th

Since the start of fall fire season two weeks ago, weather and a number of other factors have combined to lessen the risk of wildland fire thus far. “We’ve had some good soaking rains that have provided much-needed moisture so we’re in good shape right now,” said John Miller, director of resource protection. “Of course, we all know that conditions can change quickly and fire season could be in full swing with numerous fires after just a few dry, windy days.”

In the 17 days since this fall fire season began, we’ve had 10 wildland fires that have burned a total of 89 acres and one structure. Firefighters have protected three homes. For all of this year, Virginia has had 1,219 wildland fires that burned 12,755 acres, damaging 14 homes and 45 structures. Firefighters have protected 475 homes and 319 structures since January 1st.

“It’s been a busy year thus far,” said Miller. “The Commonwealth had more fires in the first three months of this year than it did all of last year.”

What can you do to protect yourself and your property? First, call your local VDOF office or local fire department and ask if there are any burning restrictions in place before you start to burn your debris pile. Check the weather conditions. If it’s been dry for the past few days and it’s windy, you probably should not burn that day. If you are ready to burn, clear an area around the burn pile. Have a shovel and water on hand to extinguish any embers or flames that escape the burn pile. If the fire escapes your control, be sure to call 911 immediately – the faster firefighters can attack the blaze, the more likely they are to contain it quickly. Remember, you are legally and financially responsible for any fire that escapes your control, so be sure to take every precaution possible before you light a fire.

Firefighters Learn How to Determine Arson, Other Causes of Wildland Fires in Virginia

Course participants also took part in a 1/2-day practical exercise to determine the cause of an
  arson fire.VDOF staff is ready and able to recognize the signs of arson and conduct
  a thorough investigation thanks to a week-long course called “Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Determination.”

The second leading cause of wildland fire in the Commonwealth is arson – a crime that is punishable by a prison term of one to five years plus the cost of suppressing the fire, which could be tens of thousands of dollars. To ensure that VDOF staff is ready and able to recognize the signs of arson and conduct a thorough investigation, 19 Agency employees and 11 other Federal and state firefighters took part in a week-long course called “Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Determination.”

The course was held at the New Kent Forestry Center and included instruction in: fire behavior & burn pattern indicators; evidence collection; fire investigation methodology; interviewing witnesses and suspects; ignition factors & sources; arson recognition, and courtroom preparation and testimony. Course participants also took part in a 1/2-day practical exercise to determine the cause of an arson fire.

“This course provided excellent preparation for the very challenging task of determining the cause of an arson fire and helping us in our law enforcement role to secure a conviction against someone who starts an arson fire,” said Alleghany County Forestry Technician Alan Craft. “I believe everyone who took this course benefited greatly from it.”

USFS Outreach Coordinators Meet in Williamsburg

Outreach Coordinators from the 13 Southern states that comprise Region 8 of the US Forest Service gathered in Williamsburg October 24 – 26 for their 5th annual conference. Outreach coordinators are responsible for guiding the programs and policies that ensure that access to information and programs available to landowners is available to all landowners in each state. VDOF hosted this year’s meeting.

State Forester Carl Garrison provided the welcome address. Forest Health Specialist Chris Asaro gave a presentation on the various cost-share programs affecting forest health that are available to landowners. Larry Mikkelson, VDOF’s new Forest Legacy program coordinator, focused his remarks on how that program works and how outreach coordinators can make landowners aware of the program. VDOF’s Conservation Education Coordinator Ellen Powell serves as the Agency’s outreach coordinator. She teamed up with Virginia State University’s Berran Rogers to report on the many successful outreach efforts underway in Virginia.

Since funding – or, more correctly, the lack of funding – is always of concern to the outreach coordinators, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Ariana Baker gave a presentation on how to prepare grant proposals that are more likely to receive funding from foundations and corporations. Securing a grant would provide funds that would otherwise not be available through the states’ budgets.

On the final day of the conference, the participants took a field trip to the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Virginia Beach. There, Dr. Bonnie Appleton of the Virginia Cooperative Extension program gave a presentation on a unique outreach program – supported by VDOF through an Urban and Community Forestry grant – involving high school students at a detention center in Danville, Va., who have created a tree nursery that focuses on growing seedlings designed specifically to not interfere with utility lines as the trees grow and mature. The outreach coordinators left Virginia with a renewed sense of mission and a lot of ideas for programs that they can implement in their own states.